2009 Research Direction

Yes, again it’s really been a while since I last wrote in this blog, been busy you see..been writing a lot and still hoping to produce something really good or clear enough to the readers. Had a discussion with Yoko yesterday, and week before a discussion with Laurene, Chris and Yoko about my 1st chapter submissions. At least it’s a good news, they seems happy with the work and wanted more. Of course there’s many changes and restructuring I have to do, not to mention the grammar but overall it seems fine and I’m back on the track. What a relief..

As for my research, I feel much more confident in articulating my thoughts. Apart from the struggle of clarifying my arguments and definitions of the designer’s role. I’m not sure about the title ‘graphic design’ but more comfortable in using the term ‘visual communication’. Why? Perhaps because I feel that graphic designer’s roles is very limited to the visual improvisations, visual identity constructions and as the message conveyer. Most of graphic designer, now I’m talking about graphic designer in general, work are based on the purpose of creating an artifacts, mainly following the client requirements. I know this is the classic discussions but still the activities seems to be going on, so until the activities change, we can move on to another discussion.

Client and purpose seems to be the core structure in graphic design process. Questions like ‘who is this poster for?’, ‘what do we want to inform here’, ‘what do we want to say’ to name few is the questions graphic designer’s will ask before the brain storming process even start. But what about ‘What will this design impact others’ or ‘What influence will this design make to others apart from communicating the message?’ is the questions that usually been omitted by designers. Not that the designer’s refused to questions, some did, but always been turn down by the purpose and the client requirements.

Inevitably, with or without the designer’s attentions, what ever design creation the designer’s produce, it will and does give an impact to the societies. For examples, just walk out of out premises, what do we see or takes out eyes attention when we walk on the street. We see posters everywhere informing us about what’s going on around the areas, educating us about directions on the streets or behaviors, or even provoking our common sense about people, politics, culture, economic to name few. Designer’s do play a significant roles here, with permission of the client or not. Not only telling or informing us but also shaping our way of life, the way we behave, stimulating our thoughts, and shaping or construct our identity.. And yet some designer’s says their behaviors or design actions is ‘neutral’..is it really?

This is my latest thought, until now this is what my research is about..

National Identity is a complex entity; a complexity that is manifest through such elements as ethnic groupings, language and cultural practices. This PhD project is investigating the ways in which communication design contributes to the communication and experience of national identity through a particular focus on Malaysia. Inevitably, through different mediums – digital or print – visual communication plays a significant influence in stimulating society’s culture and identity. Marketing and advertising both play an important part in perpetuating the construction of nation’s notion of it’s identity, by projecting an image of the country both to itself and the external world.

This PhD is exploring how the roles and contributions of graphic designers inform through the production of design artifacts (e.g comics, newspaper’s and magazine’s advertisements) a nation’s identity. This will be done through a specific focus on communication design’s contribution in shaping the construction of Malaysian identity between 1957 and 2007. This is the period of the first 50 years of Malaysia’s independence. Derived from practice-based research methodology, three main design projects have been undertaken to explore this hypothesis.

In this GRC, I will be presenting a case study of Lat, a Malaysian highly influential visual communicator and a national icon, to discuss about visual communicator’s role and it’s influences in relations to the construction of Malaysian identity.